Some writers prefer to write in only one genre. This can make marketing their future books easier, as readers who enjoyed their earlier works will enjoy something in the same genre. But what happens if you want to branch out into other genres or categories? Will readers follow you to a new genre? Will you gain new readers? Should you make the genre leap?
There are no right answers here, as every writer will come to a different conclusion about what’s best for them, their career, and their work. But if writing in multiple genres is something you’re debating, here are some pros and cons to consider:
- Writing what you want
Obviously, this is one of the biggest reasons writers want to work in multiple genres. It can be incredibly fulfilling to write something new that challenges you in unique and exciting ways. If you feel burnt out working on something that feels too similar to your previous works, having an exciting, fresh idea might keep you feeling inspired. Writing in multiple genres provides much more freedom to explore new ideas.
- Wider audience
By branching out into a new genre, you may attract readers who wouldn’t have found your work otherwise. If you only ever publish YA sci-fi, for example, your audience will only ever consist of YA sci-fi readers. But if you publish a YA thriller and readers love it, some of them may check out your previous works even though they’re sci-fi. You may end up cultivating a broader, wider readership.
Having versatility can have a number of advantages. It’s always a good idea to sharpen your skills as a writer, and being more versatile is one way to do that. Perhaps a publisher will consider you for a project that never would have come your way otherwise, or perhaps you’ll have other new opportunities. Being known as a versatile writer who can handle a variety of genres is always a plus.
- Broader community
By writing in new genres and categories, you’ll get to know other writers who are working in those genres as well. You’ll likely have opportunities to broaden your own network of writers and publishing professionals, and, most importantly, likely make new friends in the community along the way.
- Losing readers
This is one of the biggest cons of switching genres. If you write, say, adult romance novels, those readers probably won’t enjoy your YA fantasy series. Current readers might not pick up your new book at all, and if they do, they might not enjoy it. This may make your current readers more discerning about picking up a title of yours in the future, even if it’s in a genre they previously enjoyed.
- More juggling
Writing in multiple genres requires more juggling. From a marketing and promotion standpoint, you now have to market yourself to two different audiences instead of a single cohesive one. And if you’re working on multiple projects at once, you’ll have to handle multiple publishing deadlines, contracts, and more. You may have to divide your time between multiple brands, which leads me to…
- Multiple brands
Depending on how different your new genre or category is from your previous one, you might have to start a completely new brand. Writing under a pen name, reaching entirely new readers, devoting time to building your brand all over again. Any work that you’ve done branding yourself up to this point is likely useless for promoting the new book. Essentially, you’re starting from scratch.
- Writing confusion
It can also be challenging to juggle multiple genres from a writing perspective. You have to keep in mind the conventions of each, establish and refine vastly different voices or tones, and try to meet readers’ expectations in different ways. The amount of versatility required for writing across genres requires a lot of hard work and skill to accomplish successfully.
Again, there are no right or wrong answers here, only what works best for each writer. But it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each choice in order to decide whether switching genres is right for you.
What do you think? Do you write in multiple genres or categories? Have you considered it? Are there any pros and cons that I missed? Let me know in the comments!
Interested in professional editorial services for your manuscript? Check out my Services page for more information about what I offer.